The US official’s visit comes at a time when its former colony is increasingly flirting with China, whose growing military might is worrying the US and its allies.
AFP/File
Pompeo to meet Duterte in Philippine visit
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - February 24, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit the Philippines next week to meet with President Duterte and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

The US official’s visit comes at a time when its former colony is increasingly flirting with China, whose growing military might is worrying the US and its allies.

Pompeo will be in the Philippines from Feb. 28 to March 1, State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement on Friday.

He will travel to Manila after attending the scheduled summit of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, Vietnam from Feb. 26 to 28.

After winning the presidency in 2016, President Duterte threatened to split with the US and cozied up to Beijing despite a long-running maritime dispute sparked by China’s seizure of land features belonging to the Philippines.

President Xi Jinping visited the Philippines last November, offering trade and investment incentives.

Responding to an inquiry on possible discussion points of his upcoming meeting with Pompeo, Locsin on Twitter said that he is not yet aware of the agenda of the visit.

“He did tell me first time we talked not to turn our noses up at China deals; just to read the fine print as we should in every agreement,” he wrote.

“Last time we did not read the fine print we fell into the worst debt trap of all: that laid by New York banks, World Bank and International Monetary Fund,” he added.

Locsin earlier said the Philippines is not afraid of the so-called Chinese debt trap, saying the country has experienced worse in the past under the Western financial system.

“The West went into paroxysms of ecstasy over our people power revolution – which was a rebuke to Communism as a way forward,” he said in a speech in Hungary last Feb. 14.

“Still the West threatened our new democracy with financial destruction if it did not pay back every dollar lent by Western banks to the dictatorship which stole every cent of it. Democratic victory was good for a pat on the back; but not good enough for debt forgiveness,” he added.

President Duterte has bristled at all criticism over his sweeping crackdown on drugs and crime, which has killed thousands of people since mid-2016, and lashed out at critics who accuse his government of human rights violations and lack of due process.

But Trump has hailed Duterte’s action as a sign of toughness – a marked contrast with previous US president Barack Obama, Duterte’s target of expletives.

The Trump administration has downplayed human rights except when pressing adversaries and has set an overall priority of reducing the global influence of China and Russia.

MIKE POMPEO UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE
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